February 2021

Ms Heidi von Caeus, the much-loved Arts, Crafts and Entrepreneurial Skills Teacher at L.R. Schmidt Primary School in Genadendal, close to Greyton, is a firm believer in the value of practical classes and skills training at schools, which have been highlighted by the impact of COVID-19 on her learners and their families.

“My classes don’t only provide a reprieve for learners who aren’t academically inclined, but an environment to turn practical skills into crafts that can be sold at the local craft market, which is helping these youngsters earn something for their families who are suffering during these harsh times,” explained von Caeus, who is often seen helping her students at the local Saturday Morning Market in Greyton.

This special class has also provided a safe environment to offer counselling to learners who have had to face new socio and economic challenges and repercussions, brought on by the effects of the health pandemic.

“The lockdown had a huge impact on the crafts class as the learners were unable to create and sell their crafts to the market, with classes only resuming during the last school term of 2020,” added von Caeus.

Learners are regularly taken to the Greyton Market on a Saturday to sell the goods they make in class. They learn how to communicate with the customers and market their goods to grow their confidence and provide an outlet during the COVID-19 period that can be socially isolating for many young people.

Von Caeus is one of two special teaching posts, the other being a remedial teacher, both of which are funded by Klipheuwel Wind Farm’s socio-economic programme.  These two teaching posts which were implemented in 2016, with funding made available by Klipheuwel Wind Farm, provide a stimulating and creative environment for many children who are not academically inclined.

“I believe every child is born with a different set of abilities – we don’t all excel academically, some are experts at using their hands, some at reading, some at analysis and so on.  At our school we like to be able to cater for a variety of abilities,” she concluded.

L.R. Schmidt Primary School educates 420 children from Grade R to Grade 7. The remedial class teacher, teaches a class of 20 learners who are at Grade 4 stage, but range in ability from Grade R to Grade 3.